The Queen's daughter-in-law was chosen to represent the royal family at the opening of a new hospital tackling coronavirus
Queen Elizabeth II and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Queen Elizabeth and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Sophie, Countess of Wessex praised the "beacon of care" that will be provided at the latest emergency field hospital unveiled in the U.K. to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth‘s daughter-in-law was chosen to represent the royal family at the opening of the Nightingale hospital in Sunderland, in northeast England, because she has special links to the city.

The royal mom of two, 55, is a patron of the local soccer club's foundation and calls it one of the country's "friendliest cities." Now, in a video message, she followed Prince Charles, Prince William and husband Prince Edward in opening one of the field hospitals scattered around the U.K.

Sophie has an extra connection to the publicly-funded NHS. She gave birth to her daughter Lady Louise after an emergency operation at Frimley Park hospital in November 2003. Louise, who became a bridesmaid to Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, was born six weeks premature. Sophie was so impressed with the care she and her daughter received there, that she returned to have her son Viscount Severn, 12.

Sophie has been quietly volunteering behind-the-scenes to aid NHS workers and helping charities that support people in communities coping with the strains of the crisis.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex
| Credit: Rhubarb Food/Instagram

"It will be a beacon of care, a beacon of reassurance, of strength, of compassion and of innovation," she said of the new facility. "It is a representation of combined capability of many individuals and organizations as well as a wonderful reflection of Sunderland’s industrious spirit.”

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

She thanked the more than 300 people from the NHS staff, armed forces and local government teams and private sector contributors who were behind the building of the new facility.